I always get nervous when I hear the phrase ‘experimental film’. What I hear is ‘self-indulgent and boring’ Many experimental films are whims of the director/writer and represent very personal feelings and images that the general audience will find it almost impossible to decipher or relate to.
This week I watched two of Jean Cocteau’s experimental Orphic films: The Blood of a Poet and The Testament of Orpheus. Both were filled with beautiful images, as you would expect from Cocteau, but they were also filled with lots of mumbo-jumbo about the task of the artist and the time/space continuum….I think. Worth watching for sure, but I don’t think worth revisiting.
I also watched 24 Frames by Abbas Kiarostami. Experimental yes, but Kiarostami outlines the experiment very clearly in the opening of the film, so we are never lost. The experiment is to take 24 pictures (A famous Breughel painting and 23 photos taken by Kiarostami), and show what might happen two minutes before and two minutes after the static image.
I imagine that he chose 24 because of film being shown at 24 frames a second. Thus. the film explodes 1 second of film time into a full-length movie. Interesting concept, I thought.
I watched the first few ‘frames’ (the Breughel and a photo of a winter landscape) trying to get my bearings. I felt this could be a slog. Then I had the idea to set a timer for two minutes and as each frame started, I would also start the timer. When the timer sounded, I would know that that I was at the original image that was being expanded. I would see clearly how Kiarostami’s imagination was working. Watching it this way might sound tedious, but actually it allowed me to be part of the experiment and follow Kiarostami’s imagination and he gave life to the static images.
Not to everyone’s taste, I guess, but I had fun